Many S’poreans learnt their lesson the hard way

The recent high-profile case of a Singapore car that was hijacked in Johor may have made headlines here, but many other crimes against Singaporeans do not.

Kidnap cases are rare. Only two were reported between 2008 and October last year, and the culprits in both these cases have been charged in court, the Johor police have said.

Robbery and theft from, and of, vehicles are more common.

Singaporeans that The Sunday Times spoke to said they are wary, especially after reports of the recent carjacking. Many said they learnt their lesson the hard way.

  • Singaporeans who drive across the Causeway should observe the following tips:

  • - Singaporeans who drive across the Causeway should observe the following tips:

    - Keep a low profile by not carrying designer bags or flashy jewellery;

    - Do not leave valuable items in parked vehicles in plain sight;

    - Do not park vehicles in secluded or dimly lit areas.

Mr Chong Kee Seng had his car broken into outside a busy McDonald’s outlet near Tebrau Highway in Johor Baru three years ago.

He and his family returned to their vehicle to find a window smashed, and their belongings, including a camera and cellphone, gone.

He said: “We had to drive back to Singapore with a smashed window.”

Since then, he said, he has been careful about not leaving his possessions in the car in plain sight.

Another Singaporean who wanted to be known only as Adrian, 29, said the window of his mother’s car was smashed and her handbag snatched from the front passenger seat, even as she waited at a traffic junction for the lights to turn green.

“Two guys came on a motorcycle, smashed the window, grabbed her handbag and sped off,” he said.

In the incident, which took place just five minutes from the Johor Customs checkpoint a year ago, his mother lost more than $1,000 in cash and items.

Neither she nor Mr Chong recovered any of their belongings.

Yesterday, Johor police chief Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said the three suspects who drove off in Singapore businesswoman Rita Zahara’s car in Johor - with her family, cash and possessions in it - have been arrested.

The Automobile Association of Singapore advises Malaysia-bound motorists to plan their route, to forestall the likelihood of getting lost in an unfamiliar area.

It also recommends that they get their vehicles checked and serviced. “The last thing you want is to get stranded in a remote place with vehicle failure – worse if it’s in the middle of the night,” said the association.